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Pre-Sputnik to Post-Watergate Concern about the Gifted


by Abraham J. Tannenbaum 1979

The half-decade following Sputnik in 1957 and the last half-decade of the 1970s may be viewed as twin peak periods of interest in gifted and talented children. Separating the peaks was a deep valley of neglect in which the public fixed its attention more eagerly on the low functioning, poorly motivated, and socially handicapped children in our schools. It was not simply a ease of bemoaning the plight of able and then disadvantaged learners, with each population taking turns as the pitied underdog or the victim of unfair play. Rather than transferring the same sentiments from one undereducated group to another, the nation found itself transforming its mood from intense anxiety to equally profound indignation: anxiety lest our protective shield of brainpower became weaker, rendering us vulnerable to challenge from without, followed by indignation over social injustice in the land, which could tear us apart from within. Now we are experiencing a revival of earlier sensitivities to the needs of the gifted. Judging from these vacillations in national temperament, it seems as if we have nor yet succeeded in paying equal attention simultaneously to our most and least successful achievers at school.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 78, No. 1


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 80 Number 5, 1979, p. 5-27
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 19342, Date Accessed: 8/21/2017 11:36:37 PM

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About the Author
  • Abraham Tannenbaum
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    ABRAHAM J. TANNENBAUM is a Professor in the Department of Special Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
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